Colossians Bible Study

Colossians: Lesson 7

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Colossians 4:7-18

Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.

10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. What is the theme or purpose of this passage? With what sort of tone (rebuking, emphatic, compassionate, etc.) does Paul close out this epistle? Thinking back over the previous lessons, give a 3-5 sentence synopsis of Colossians in your own words.

2. List the people Paul mentions by name in this passage, noting the words of praise he has for each. Paul did not take those who served with him in ministry for granted. Are you thankful for those who serve in the various ministries of your church? What are some ways you can show appreciation to others who serve in ministry alongside you (and over you) at your church?

3. What else do we know about Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Barnabas, Epaphras, Luke, Demas, and Archippus? How can cross-referencing give us a fuller picture and better understanding of a passage we’re studying?

4. Examine and describe the ministry roles each person in this passage fulfilled in the Body of Christ in light of 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. How does Colossians 4:7-18 demonstrate the need for various people to carry out various “services and activities”? How does this passage show value for a variety of servanthood roles and ministries, even those we might consider small or unimportant? Think about your church and Christianity at large. Do we place a greater value on those who serve in “spotlight” (“important”) roles compared to those who serve in obscure (“unimportant”) roles? How does 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 speak to this?

5. Note the words “encourage your hearts” (8), “they have been a comfort to me” (11), “struggling on your behalf in his prayers” (12), and “the church in her house” (15). How were encouragement, comfort, prayer, and hospitality crucial to the early church? Are they just as crucial to the church today? Is your church particularly strong or weak in any of these areas? How could your church improve in these areas?

Homework:

How can you serve your church in the areas of encouragement, comfort, prayer, and hospitality? Think of one specific thing you can do for your church or a particular person in your church in each of these four areas, and do them over the next week. For example:

Monday: Write an e-mail encouraging my pastor.
Tuesday: Visit one of my church’s members who is hospitalized or a shut-in.
Wednesday: Pray through my church’s prayer list.
Thursday: Invite the lady who visited my church on Sunday for coffee.

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Luke 12

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Luke 12:

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledgebefore the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully,17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating.Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will bescorching heat,’ and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Acts 1

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Acts 1

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out.19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

“‘May his camp become desolate,
    and let there be no one to dwell in it’;

and

“‘Let another take his office.’

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord,who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers

Christian women, New Testament, Obedience, Sunday School, Women

Miraculous Inceptions: Elizabeth and Mary ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 10-5-14

inceptions

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 40 ~ Sep. 28- Oct. 4
Nehemiah 8-13, Psalm 126, Malachi, Luke 1-3, John 1, Matthew 1-3, Mark 1
Miraculous Inceptions: Elizabeth and Mary

Background/Timeline
1. 424 – 6 B.C. The Intertestamental Period- Nehemiah 13 and the book of Malachi record the last historical events and the last prophecy, respectively, of the Old Testament. Over 400 years would pass between those events and and the opening of the New Testament. Although God was still at work in the world and in the lives of His people, Scripture does not record anything from this time period. There was no prophetic word from God during the Intertestamental Period, thus, it is often called the 400 years of silence.

2. 424-334 B.C.- Israel remained a Persian territory for about 100 years after the last recorded events in the Old Testament

3. 334-331 B.C.- Alexander the Great conquers Persia and gains control of all Persian holdings, including Israel. Greek rule is established by 332 B.C.

4. 301-198 B.C.- After the death of Alexander the Great, his generals vie for control. General Ptolemy I Soter sets up the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt (later demanding to be made Pharaoh). Ptolemaic rule of Israel begins.

5. 198 B.C.- Another Greek, Antiochus the Great defeats the Ptolemaic dynasties and takes over. He persecutes Israel to the extreme, not allowing them to keep the Sabbath, forcing them to offer unclean sacrifices, and eat unlawful foods.

6. 166-142 B.C.- Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons lead the 24 year Maccabean (named for Judas Maccabeus, the oldest son and leader) Revolt against Antiochus. The Jews eventually won their independence (though they still retained many Greek ways), and Mattathias set up the Hasmonean dynasty of priests (unbiblical since priests could only come from the family line of Zadok, and his family did not) to govern Israel.

7. 63 B.C.- Rome takes over the known world, including Israel.

8. 37-4 B.C.- Rome sets up Herod the Great as king of Israel. He is still king when Jesus is born.

The stage was set. After four hundred years of silence God was about to speak again, act mightily on behalf of His people again. And it all started with two godly women.

Luke 1:5-24

Elizabeth
It’s helpful to remind ourselves right from the start that, although we know something amazing is about to happen, Elizabeth and Zechariah had no idea. They were just regular people going about their daily lives.

5- Zechariah was a priest, but Elizabeth was also from the priestly tribe. (And what did the priests do? They minister before the Lord; just what John would do.) They were likely respected in their community and what we would consider “upper middle class,” at the least.

6 (John 9:3, Romans 9:10-16)- Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were godly people. “Blameless” doesn’t mean “sinless,” it just means that they loved the Lord, desired to obey Him, and kept His commands and statues the best they could, repenting when they sinned. It’s important this fact was mentioned before Luke went on to say that she was barren. Barrenness was often seen as a punishment from God for sin. Sometimes it was, but that wasn’t the case here. As Jesus would later say as he healed the man born blind, Elizabeth wasn’t being punished for sin, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in” her.

But by the same token, Elizabeth did not earn this honor God was about to bestow on her by living blamelessly. There were probably thousands of other godly Israelite women living at that time. Why Elizabeth and not one of them? That answer is found in the mind of God alone. It is, as Hebrews says, “not because of works but because of him who calls.”

8-13- The angel appears and begins telling Zechariah what’s about to happen. This is an answer to prayer (13) for Zechariah and Elizabeth. Scripture doesn’t say this, I am only speculating, but it would not surprise me if they had stopped praying for a child long ago. Elizabeth was not only barren, both of them were “advanced in years” (7). Maybe they thought God had said “no” when He had really said “not yet.” But now was God’s perfect timing. Can you think of any other Bible characters who conceived when they were old and/or had been barren for years? Several of our Old Testament heroes came into the world this way: Hannah (Samuel), Rebekah (Jacob), Rachel (Joseph), and Mrs. Manoah (Samson) were all barren until God opened their wombs. But Elizabeth’s pregnancy in old age after years of barrenness would probably have reminded her community most of Sarah (Isaac). All of these miraculous Old Testament births after barrenness would certainly have alerted Israel that John would be one to watch.

Also notable is that, while the angel may have appeared and spoken to Zechariah, it was Elizabeth that God would use to bring John into the world. God is God. He could have dropped John out of the sky or grown him out of the ground like a tree. But He didn’t. He chose a woman to work through. It’s just another example of the way God values and uses women as He accomplishes His purposes.

24-25- When amazing things happen to godly people, godly people respond in godly ways. There’s no doubt Elizabeth was overjoyed that her prayer for a child was finally being answered in such a miraculous way and with such a child. But she responded humbly and modestly, staying in seclusion -possibly as an act of gratitude or to ensure a safe pregnancy- for five months. She also responded with thanks and acknowledgement of God’s grace and power in answering her prayer.

Luke 1:25-38

Mary
Mary and Elizabeth were cousins of some degree, but their lives were very different from one another. Mary was young, probably in her teens, while Elizabeth was older. Elizabeth was from a priestly lineage (Aaron). Mary was from a kingly lineage (David). Elizabeth had been married many years. Mary was only engaged. Elizabeth was not a virgin. Mary was. Elizabeth and Zechariah were financially comfortable. Mary’s family was poor. Elizabeth had been praying for a child for years. The last thing Mary would have wanted at that point in her life was a baby.

26-30- There was nothing special about Mary. She was a regular girl from a regular family growing up and about to get married.

“O favored one” literally means “full of grace.” It is an expression used elsewhere in Scripture as a general reference to a Believer. Luke called Elizabeth blameless and righteous and simply called Mary a Believer. Likely this difference was to drive home the point that Elizabeth was not barren due to sin. Also, Elizabeth would probably have been more mature in the faith since she was older and had access to a live-in priest.

As with Elizabeth, we see that God chooses whom He will for His own reasons. Mary was a godly young woman, and God was pleased with this, but she was a sinner just like everyone else. She had not “found favor with God” or earned her position as Jesus’ mother because she was somehow holier than other young women like her. God’s favor rested on Mary because He chose her, not because she earned it.

34-37- Both Mary and Zechariah were confused and questioning when an angel showed up and announced an unplanned pregnancy. So why was Zechariah rebuked while Mary was merely given an explanation? First, Zechariah was a priest, and knew the Scriptures intimately. He knew there was precedent for his situation (Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, etc.), had even prayed for a child, and should have known that God was capable of doing the same thing in his own family. There was zero precedent for Mary’s situation. She hadn’t prayed for a child, wasn’t married, and a virgin birth was unheard of. Though she undoubtedly knew some of the Scriptures, she certainly wouldn’t have known them as well as a priest. God knows the heart, and He knew that Zechariah’s question was born of doubt, and Mary’s was born of confusion, ignorance, and a desire to understand.

38- Once again, a godly woman responds in a godly way. She didn’t express what was probably a very real fear– that she would be accused of adultery and possibly stoned, or that Joseph would divorce her (which he nearly did). She simply trusted that the God who was about to do this amazing thing was big enough to protect her from whatever might come her way. Whatever God wanted to do with her was fine. She was His servant.

Elizabeth, Mary, and Me (2 Corinthians 12:9)
The God who said “My power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Cor.) has always delighted to show Himself glorious through weak, sinful, ordinary people from all walks of life like Elizabeth, Mary, and each of us. Though God will probably not do something as major in my life or yours as He did in Elizabeth’s and Mary’s lives, He is still at work in our lives, accomplishing His Kingdom purposes. And that is what is important.

Too many Christians these days wear themselves out running around asking, “What’s my purpose? What’s my purpose?” when what we should really be asking is, “What is God’s purpose for His Kingdom, and how can I be obedient to Him so He can accomplish His purposes through me?” Mary and Elizabeth both considered themselves nothing more than God’s slaves, and humbly submitted to whatever God wanted to do in their lives, whether it would bring joy or hardship. Will we do the same?